Advertisement

Haley to launch ad buy in Super Tuesday states, Trump potential VP picks speak at CPAC

By Gram Slattery and Tim Reid

COLUMBIA, South Carolina (Reuters) -Nikki Haley's campaign will launch a "seven-figure" ad buy aimed at Super Tuesday states, campaign manager Betsy Ankney told reporters on Friday, a signal that Haley plans to continue campaigning for the Republican nomination even if she loses by a large margin in South Carolina.

Ankney did not disclose any details of the ad buy, including which markets will be targeted. Fifteen states and one U.S. territory will hold Republican nominating contests on Super Tuesday, which falls on March 5 this year.

Haley has already pledged to fight on no matter the result of the South Carolina primary on Saturday. Former President Donald Trump is leading in the state by over 30 percentage points, according to most surveys.

In the call with reporters on Friday, Ankney acknowledged that Haley that faces a daunting path ahead if she is to overtake Trump, who holds a 60-point lead in most national polls.

"We know that the math is challenging, but this has never just been about who can win a Republican primary," Ankney said. "This battle is about who can win in November, defeat the Democrats and finally get our country back on track."

In other news from the U.S. presidential race:

Haley and Trump both hit the trail in South Carolina on the eve of Saturday's primary.

Haley was traveling on her blue Haley-themed bus to two events on Friday, while Trump was holding a "Get Out The Vote" rally and then delivering the keynote speech at the Black Conservative Federation's annual gala in Columbia.

Haley’s first campaign stop of the day took place in the small town of Moncks Corner, where she attacked Trump for being unelectable in a general election and for trying to force the Republican National Committee to declare him the presumptive nominee.

"We don't anoint kings in America," she told a crowd of about 100 voters gathered in a small plaza.

Andrew Tozzolino, 62, who attended the event, said: "I think she represents reason."

"I don’t agree with everything she says," he added. "But given the choice between her and the former President Trump, to me, it's a no-brainer."

VP AUDITIONS

As Trump prepared for his South Carolina showdown with Haley, a number of his potential running mates were touting their support for him at the 2024 Conservative Political Action Conference, known as CPAC, a few miles from Washington.

With Trump close to clinching his party's presidential nomination, CPAC organizers are holding a straw poll on Saturday that gives attendees the chance to say who they would like as his vice president.

The vice presidential straw poll question, the first time one has been included at CPAC in over a decade, gives activists 17 options.

Many of the names on the list were speakers at the three-day conference, which ends Saturday.

They include South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem; New York congresswoman Elise Stefanik; U.S. Senator J.D. Vance; Ben Carson, a former Trump cabinet official and 2016 presidential candidate; Byron Donalds, a Florida congressman; and Kari Lake, a U.S. Senate candidate in Arizona and right-wing firebrand.

After Donalds spoke at the conference on Thursday, he was asked by Reuters if was interested in the running mate gig. "Oh yeah, I'd do it," he said.

At a Fox News town hall event on Tuesday, Trump said Donalds and Noem were on his shortlist.

Trump also said former presidential rivals Vivek Ramaswamy, due to speak at CPAC on Saturday, and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who was not appearing at CPAC, were on that list, along with Tulsi Gabbard, a former Democratic congresswoman turned independent who spoke glowingly about Trump at CPAC on Thursday night.

Ramaswamy and DeSantis have both endorsed Trump since dropping out of the Republican presidential nominating contest.

Haley, who has said she does not want to be Trump's running mate, is also included in the straw poll question. She was invited to attend CPAC but declined to attend. Trump is speaking at the conference on Saturday before heading back to South Carolina.

(Reporting by Gram Slattery in Columbia, South Carolina and Tim Reid in WashingtonAdditional reporting by Alexandra Ulmer, Steve Holland and Costas Pitas; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Alistair Bell)